Life isn’t fair. Here’s a example of why life isn’t fair.
You are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you get stabbed, shot, punched, assaulted etc. by a stranger or acquaintance.
You are the victim of a violent crime. A crime which you did not initiate or provoke. You were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As a result of the violent crime, you sustain life long physical and emotional injuries which will have significant consequences over many aspects of your life: ability to earn an income; housekeeping, handy person; participation in recreational activities; on going treatment requirements; nightmares; inability to trust people; anxiety; depression; rage; PTSD etc.
It’s only fair that you seek compensation for your injuries. That’s what the law is there for. To make you (or to attempt to make you whole) for the injuries you have sustained.
Here is the problem at law. There is no insurance for a criminal action. So if a stranger on the street assaults you, there is no insurance to protect against getting assaulted in a violent crime. You can purchase other insurance (like disability insurance), in the event you become disabled as a result of an assault or another traumatic event. But, there is no insurance in place to recover damages directly from the bad guy tort feasor.
You can seek out a personal injury lawyer to sue the bad guy tort feasor. But unless the Defendant has lots of money or fixed assets, collecting on that Judgment will prove to be very difficult. Even where the Defendant is wealthy, collecting can still be very difficult where the assets are in held in different names or structures.
And it’s for this reason that the Government of Ontario created the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board along with the Compensation For Victims of Crime Act.
In the good old days (like going back to around May 2019) victims of crime could apply to the Ontario Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and receive an award of up to $25,000 for their pain and suffering and any economic damages or out of pocket expenses. These other specials damages were not capped. In addition, Applicants to the Board were also eligible for any past or future rehabilitation of treatment costs which weren’t covered by OHIP. The system wasn’t perfect, but it worked. $25,000.
The Ford Government announced that awards for pain and suffering from the CICB would be cut from $25,000 down to $5,000 earlier in 2019. The maximum cap for other special awards was put at $30,000. But in reality, the overwhelming majority of payouts at the Board level were damages for pain and suffering.
In November 2019, the Ford Government’s budget called “Protecting What Matters Most” officially cut the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board from existence. As of October 1, 2019, individuals seeking compensation for costs that result from being a victim of crime should contact the Victim Quick Response Program + (VQRP+).
The Victim Quick Response Program + (VQRP+) provides short-term financial support toward essential expenses for victims, their immediate family members and witnesses in the immediate aftermath of a violent crime to help reduce the impact of the crime, enhance safety and meet immediate practical needs.
Supports are available to meet the most basic and critical needs when no other means are available.
VQRP+ is available to individuals who have no other financial means (e.g. private insurance) where there is no publicly funded program available.
To receive VQRP+ assistance:
- This must be a violent crime that occurred in Ontario
- There must be a direct link between the crime and the expense being requested
- There must be no available service that is publicly funded that can meet the same need
- Depending on the crime, it must have been reported or disclosed to a police service, child protection authority domestic violence shelter, sexual assault centre, hospital, community agency or Indigenous organization that provides services to victims.
Awards from the VQRP+ program will be nothing like we saw when when the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board was around.
It’s odd that the Ford Government would cut the Board given that the Board itself was created by the Conservative Government under Bill Davis in 1971. It was a way for the Conservatives to show they were not only tough on crime; and that crime was on their radar; but also empathetic towards victims of crime. It was a way for the Government to show that they cared and that they looked after innocent victims of crime. 48 years passed since the Board was created. During that period of time Ontario elected further Conservative governments, but also NDP governments and Liberal Governments. None of the predecessors to the Ford Governments, regardless of political affiliation ever scrapped the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
It’s also odd that Doug Ford, whose brother Rob and his colleagues were in an out of the criminal spotlight time and time again. You would think that anyone who should have some empathy about being the “victim“, it would be Doug Ford after he saw what his brother went through. But instead, victims of crimes in Ontario are to be victimized yet again with the demise of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. It truly represented for innocent victims of crime their time to be heard in a legal forum apart from a Victim Impact Statement which may, or may not have been used in the criminal proceeding.
To say that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board gave innocent victims of crime their “day in Court” is an understatement. Many of our clients found the process almost therapeutic and vindicating. The award they received was not only meaningful from a financial perspective, but it also sent a message that the people of Ontario stood with them. We were telling the innocent that “we got your back”. With the changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, we are leaving the backs of our vulnerable victims of crime exposed and leaving them behind. It’s not right and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. More upsetting is that the odds of a more progressive government bringing back the board as very slim. Once cuts like these have been made, they’re unlikely to ever get restored. Here’s to hope…….